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Hardwood Flooring Ideas for the Home

Featured image for "Hardwood Flooring Ideas for the Home" blog post. Kitchen with hardwood floor.

Hardwood flooring ideas for the home abound for every homeowner to take advantage of when renovating. When planning a renovation, choosing the best hardwood flooring ideas for the home is crucial because it underpins everything else. A variety of flooring options that exist, ranging from terrazzo to carpet. However, hardwood flooring is the most preferred.

Hardwood flooring ideas for the home, when implemented, will not all produce the same results, and picking a product does not simply involve choosing a color of your preference. A variety of factors can influence the performance and aesthetics of hardwood.

If you are considering installing hardwood floors, you can never go wrong. All kinds of hardwood floors are perfect for both traditional and modern decors. They also come with unmatched natural beauty. Hardwood flooring is suitable for any room, but basements and kitchens are the most common areas to install hardwood flooring.

How to Choose Hardwood Flooring Ideas for the Home

1. Choose Solid or Engineered Hardwood Flooring

Solid hardwood flooring is pure wood. It comes with a thickness of 3 to 4 inches. Being a solid wood, the flooring can be refinished and sanded as many times as you want. However, solid hardwood flooring is affected by humidity changes and, therefore, not a perfect choice for below-grade basements.

Engineered hardwood flooring is a facing of real wood attached to several layers of wood below to ensure the floor does not shift during contraction and expansion cycles. This allows engineered hardwood to have great stability over time and renders it the perfect choice for any area of your home, even the below-grade basements. Engineered hardwood flooring can be sanded or refinished once or twice throughout its lifetime, dependent on the thickness of the hardwood.

If your apartments and basements have concrete subfloors, engineered hardwood flooring provides an installation advantage. Solid wood is normally installed over one or two layers of plywood, which can raise the floor’s height and interfere with existing doors or slightly reduce the ceiling’s height. On the other hand, you can directly have engineered flooring glued over a soundproofing mat or concrete. You can also have engineered flooring installed over radiant heat.

You should select keenly as some engineered flooring contain top layers that cannot be sanded or refinished because they are thin. High-quality products come with a thicker layer, which leaves you with more usable wood. Despite the advanced features of engineered flooring, a portion of homeowners will still choose solid wood. This is attributed to the wood’s unique quieter nature, where you can feel it underfoot.

Living room with couch, slippers, laptop.
Living room with matching beautiful top quality engineered hardwood flooring.

2. Choose Prefinished or Site Finish

You can buy hardwood flooring with a raw veneer that gets finished after installation by a professional. You can also get a prefinished hardwood flooring that comes with the topcoat and stain already done. The good thing about prefinished wood is that you are sure of what you are getting because once you choose a product, you will get an exact sample to use in identifying your home’s color palette. The prefinished wood can help you determine different design elements like cabinetry, wall coverings, and textiles.

Prefinished hardwood flooring saves time because you don’t need to apply sealant or color. When you decide to use the site finish hardwood flooring, you depend on the flooring contractor skills to achieve perfection. On-site finishing gives room for customization, which is more enticing for many designers and homeowners. The final product for on-site finishing is smoother because it is normally sanded after installation and then finished as one continuous plane.

Prefinished hardwood floor.
Prefinished hardwood floors are extremely convenient because you don’t have to add sealant or color.

3. Choose the Type of Finish

Finishes are categorized into polyurethane and oil. Oil finishing contains a look and feel that is natural, matte, soft, and penetrates the wood. However, it can be easily affected by stains and damage. Polyurethane finishing forms a hard top coat on the surface that readily recovers from wear and tear, particularly when food is flying around the kitchen or for people with children.

While oil finishes scratch with ease, they make the scratches less noticeable. You can be able to touch upon spot-by-spot in oil finishes when an issue occurs. Polyurethane finishes require you to replace a board or buff and recoat the whole section of the floor. When you choose a soft oil finish, the maintenance is cheap but must be repeated more regularly. When you choose a hard polyurethane finish, you don’t have to do maintenance more regularly. However, polyurethane maintenance is more expensive.

4. Consider Wood Yypes

Oak is the best choice if you are planning to do hardwood flooring for your home. The wood takes stains well and is definitely more durable. Oakwood contains a satisfying natural grain and is readily available, which explains its affordable prices. Designers mostly prefer white oak for the absence of the pinkish tones of red oak.

Another popular choice for hardwood flooring of your home is walnut. The wood is slightly softer compared to oak. Its deep color renders it perfect for rooms where you need to have a darker finish. When changing a color, you should start with a natural material; you are increasing slowly by slowly realizing the shade you desire. Other varieties you can choose for your home’s hardwood flooring include ash, maple, cherry, and hickory. The choice for which type of wood to use narrows down based on personal preference on grain and color.

Sitting on a hardwood floor.
Hardwood flooring comes in many varieties. The “best” choice really comes down to personal preference.

5. Choose Your Grain Pattern

Woods are cut in three varying designs, which are quarter-sawn, rift-sawn, and plain-sawn. The plain-sawn gives a traditional wood grain, which has undulating patterns described as cathedrals. Rift-sawn contains a consistent, linear, and long grain that lacks cathedrals. Quarter-sawn appears similar to rift-sawn but contains extra irregular figuring. The three designs are ideal, depending on what you want.

Normally, hardwood flooring is available as plain-sawn or as rift-sawn and quarter-sawn mixed together. The mix is good because it provides you with figuring without exaggerations. However, you can have quarter-sawn or rift-sawn independently, depending on what you desire. Woodgrain cannot be described as good or bad. It solely depends on your personal desires and application. If your home is rustic, plain-sawn is the most ideal. If your home is located in the city, quarter-sawn will be perfect as it will add a bit of life.

6. Decide on Plank Width

Traditionally, nearly all hardwood flooring was installed in 2 to 3 inches strips. Presently a substantial number of homeowners make use of wider planks. There exists a sense of expense and luxury linked with wider planks. The more expensive your room is, the wider the plank you will choose. Wider planks are more expensive.

A hardwood flooring with wide planks contains fewer seams in contrast to a hardwood flooring of thin strips. It is crucial to note that those seams on the floor of wide planks may actually become more noticeable as the wood expands and contracts. The movement may seem exaggerated because changes in the wood are not distributed across as many boards.

Red oak, which is a top-grade hardwood, has a width of 2 to 4 inches. It has small knots and limited color variation. Natural maple contains more color variation with little knots and is available in a width of 4 to 6 inches. Rustic ash contains larger knots and more color variation. It is lower in price and makes a good floor.

Dog on hardwood floor.
There are a variety of plank widths to choose from among the various types of hardwood flooring.

What Other Types of Flooring Can I Choose?

Choosing to floor your home is a huge task. What you choose and the surface area you want to cover will affect the use, feel, and look of each room in your house. The following is a list to assist you to familiarize yourself with different types of flooring:

1. Laminate Flooring

This flooring is most ideal for playrooms and kitchens. The cost ranges between $1 to $7 per square foot. Laminate flooring can resist warping. The flooring’s hard plastic wear layer shrugs off scratches and scuffs. The flooring can imitate both ceramic and wood flooring and has a DIY-friendly installation procedure.

The disadvantages of laminate flooring are that it can’t be refinished, slippery when wet, and the eTrac-hard surface carries an artificial feel.

Room with laminate flooring.
Laminate flooring is an inexpensive alternative to traditional hardwood flooring.

2. Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is most ideal for hobby rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. The price ranges between $1 to $5 per square foot. The flooring is waterproof, and its construction feels good underfoot. Vinyl flooring is relatively inexpensive and can take after both tile and real wood.

Some disadvantages come with vinyl flooring is that its production is not environmentally friendly. The flooring can’t quite shake that synthetic look.

Living room with vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring is an excellent waterproof hardwood flooring alternative.

3. Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring is most ideal for family rooms, kitchens, and main living areas. The flooring contains beauty and warmth similar to that of wood flooring. The flooring’s best qualities are its durability. Being a grass, bamboo has some green credibility and is a renewable resource.

The disadvantage of using bamboo flooring is that its cheaper varieties can suffer from scratches and dents.

Bamboo flooring deck,
Bamboo flooring is becoming quite popular as a type of sustainable, eco-friendly flooring.

4. Ceramic Flooring

Ceramic flooring is most ideal for sunrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. The cost ranges between $1 to $20 per square foot. The flooring has a wide variety of styles and colors. Glazed ceramic tile flooring has high durability. The flooring is resistant to scratches, stains, and moisture.

The hardness of the flooring underfoot renders it a limited choice for many. Ceramic grout lines need repeated maintenance.

Ceramic flooring.
Ceramic is popular for outdoor settings.

5. Cork Flooring

Cork flooring is ideal for playrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and living areas. The cost ranges between $2 to $6 per square foot. Cork is harvested from trees, making it a renewable resource that is environment friendly. The flooring has a vibrant and warm look. It feels good underfoot because of its natural resilience. Cork flooring is available as planks or tiles for DIY installation.

Cork flooring has several cons associated with it. The flooring can be torn by sharp objects and suffer dents from high heels. It requires to be refinished with sealers more regularly. The flooring cannot resist moisture, and thus is a poor choice for laundry rooms and bathrooms.

Cork.
Cork flooring is another popular low-cost alternative to hardwood.

6. Linoleum Flooring

Linoleum flooring is most ideal for kitchens, family rooms, and playrooms. The price ranges between $2 to $5 per square foot—the flooring is produced with environmentally friendly materials with linseed oil and cork powder. Linoleum has high resistance against wear and stains. It is available in different colors.

There are disadvantages associated with linoleum flooring. It can suffer dents from furniture legs and high heels. The flooring can turn yellowish if continuously exposed to sunlight. It can’t stand excess moisture rendering it a poor choice for bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Room with lineoleum flooring.
If you do choose linoleum flooring, beware that it doesn’t get along with water and moisture well.

7. Engineered Wood Flooring

This flooring is most ideal for kitchens, hallways, and living areas. The price ranges between $2 to $7 per square foot. The laminate construction of engineered wood flooring offers good stability. The top facing is wood, which contains natural beauty and warmth. The flooring’s click-together kind is DIY-friendly, and it can be installed in basements. Parquet flooring tiles are among the engineered wood flooring varieties.

The disadvantages of engineered wood flooring are that the real wood surface can suffer dents and scratches, and it can be refinished only once.

How to Install Hardwood Flooring Ideas for the Home

Tools and Materials

Based on the kind of hardwood flooring you want to install; you may require different tools and materials. Read the instructions attached to your flooring and ensure all tools are ready, and you can access them. A saw, pry bar, nails, hammer, drill bits, and pneumatic flooring nailer are among the tools and materials that should be within your reach when you are installing hardwood flooring.

1. Determine the installation procedure

You must start by identifying the right method for the floor you want to install. Methods of installation differ depending on the construction, thickness, and width of the hardwood product and the place of installation. Normally, solid hardwood flooring is nailed to a wood subfloor. You can install it as a floating floor for engineered hardwood and mechanically fasten or glue it depending on the product you choose. You should install solid hardwood below grade.

The nail or glue installation can be problematic even for a homeowner with vast DIY experience. Hardwood flooring is a huge investment, and to achieve perfection, make sure to take your time, precision, and have the installation know-how. If you are not sure about the installation procedure, seek an installer who can have the work done in the first attempt.

Kitchen with hardwood flooring.
There are numerous methods for installing your home’s hardwood flooring.

2. Allow your floors to acclimatize.

Solid hardwood floors require time to get used to the climate of your room. To ensure your hardwood flooring acclimatizes with the climate, transfer the packaged boards into the room where you want them installed and leave them for a few days. This should be done with the cartons open and raised off the ground.

This simple exercise ensures the solid hardwood’s moisture content gets used to the conditions in the room. Engineered flooring does not necessarily require acclimatization; store them in the room before installation. You should maintain the room’s relative humidity at 33 to 55 percent of what is prescribed by the manufacturer. This is meant to reduce any movement within the wood flooring later.

3. Prepare your space

Before you start the installation process, consult the detailed instructions attached to your product. Watching some installation videos can also help you to understand how it is done. Gather all the instructions’ section tools and ensure that your subfloor is flat, dry, and clean.

If you are making improvements over an existing floor, ensure the doors can still open and close. You should also check to see that appliances are flush with countertops. Most hardwood flooring can be added over existing terrazzo, marble, and ceramic tile with strict adherence to manufacturer’s instructions.

You can also install over existing vinyl tile or vinyl sheet for nail-down applications. For this, you must ensure the subfloor meets the minimum requirements, and the fastener penetration is not noticeably diminished. While installing hardwood flooring over the existing floor, you must ensure you don’t sand any surfaces that are coated with lead-based paint or has asbestos. If that is not a problem, you can get rid of the old finishing and prepare your floor by repairing the loose boards and perfectly cleaning it.

You should measure your room, giving a 5 percent cutting allowance. Get rid of any trim that you will reuse and remove flooring if required. Where you are nailing the floor, have marks on the wall showing the floor joints position.

Room with furniture and hardwood floors.
Installing hardwood flooring into your home can be a big task. Not taking shortcuts and doing it right will pay off in the long run.

4. Install the flooring

Start by rolling out the underlayment, if it’s required. You should lay floor pieces parallel to the longest wall in your room. Make use of spacers between boards and walls to give room for expansion. Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions for the perfect installation procedure. If you are using a pneumatical nail gun, you are supposed to make face-nail and pilot holes until there is space for the nail gun. Mix boards from various boxes to achieve a luxurious look and ensure that your finished floor does not contain dark or lighter patches.

5. Add the finishing touches.

The finishing touches can make or ruin the success of your unique job. You should ensure to cut boards lengthwise for the last row. When you are almost done, trace any contours that need to be cut and installed as per the installation guide. When you have installed all rows, get rid of the spacers and attach moldings and trim.

Cleaning your floors and kitchen surfaces

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